Victims of the State

30 Cases

Butts County, GA 

Jean Long

Jan 23, 2003

Beverly Jean Long was charged with murdering her husband, James Long, in his workshop. According to police, she cracked his skull, dragged his body, poured an accelerant on top of him, and ignited it. Investigators claimed to find pour patterns on the floor where the accelerant puddled. They said Jean's story that the fire started when James was filling up a kerosene heater did not make sense. They noted that the red filling can that Jean mentioned was found undamaged outside the workshop.

Defense investigators debunked the pour pattern evidence. According to them, James mistakenly poured gasoline into a hot, but unlit kerosene heater. Gasoline residue was found in the heater. The gasoline exploded, setting James and his workshop on fire. While he was running around on fire, James apparently hit his head on a metal worktable, cracking his skull. The red filling can found outside the workshop was apparently not the one that was used as it contained kerosene. At trial, Jean Long was acquitted.  (Forensic Files)  [9/07]

Chatham County, GA 

Earl Charles

Oct 3, 1974 (Savannah)

Earl Patrick Charles was sentenced to death for the murders of Max Rosenstein and his son, Fred Rosenstein. The murders occurred during an armed robbery of a Savannah furniture store which the victims operated. The key evidence against Charles was the eyewitness testimony of a surviving witness who identified him, even though she had not picked his picture out of a photo lineup. The prosecution also presented an informant who claimed to have heard Charles confess to killing a “man and a little boy.” It should be noted that the youngest victim was 42 years old. After the trial, it emerged that there were several other problems with the identification made by the surviving witness. The witness claimed to have seen the perpetrators on the day of the murders at a time in which they had airtight alibis and she had also identified one man who was in prison at the time of the offense. New evidence was found which substantiated Charles's alibi that he was at work in Tampa, FL when the crime occurred. His conviction was reversed on appeal. Afterwards, the prosecution re-investigated the case and decided to drop all charges against Charles. Charles eventually received a $75,000 civil rights settlement in his action against one of the detectives.  (JP) (CWC) (PC)  [7/05]

Chatham County, GA

Gary Nelson

Feb 19, 1978 (Savannah)

Gary X. Nelson was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape, sodomy, and murder of 6-year-old Valerie Armstrong. A witness who at first described the perpetrator as “bald and thin,” identified Nelson as the perpetrator even though her description does not fit him. The prosecution presented evidence tracing the murder weapon to Nelson, but it was later found that there was no evidence. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation expert traced hair found on the victim to Nelson and said that only 120 men in the country could have been the source of the hair. However, the defense found out later that only the FBI had examined the hair and it had concluded that the sample was not suitable for any significant comparison purposes.

Other evidence pointed to a suspect named Al, who had a history of child molestation and who was working in the area where the victim was last seen. The victim had even told her friend that she was going to get some money from “Uncle Al.” Nelson's conviction was overturned and he was set free in 1991.  (PC) (DPIC)  [7/05]

Chatham County, GA 

Scott & Echols

Feb 1, 1986 (Savannah)

Samuel Scott and Douglas Echols were convicted of kidnapping, rape, and robbery. Echols allegedly held the victim down while Scott raped her. The victim escaped from the house where she was raped and ran a few blocks before summoning the police. She apparently identified the wrong house to police, as well its occupants, Scott and Echols, as her assailants. At trial the two men claimed to have been out with another woman at the time of the assault, and that woman testified on their behalf, as did another witness who said he saw the them at a restaurant at about the time of the assault. DNA tests exonerated the two men in 2004.  (IP1) (IP2) (FJDB)  [12/05]

Chatham County, GA

Troy Davis

Aug 19, 1989 (Savannah)

Troy Anthony Davis, a black man, was sentenced to death for the shooting murder of Mark Allen MacPhail, a white police officer. At the time MacPhail, 27, was working off-duty as a security guard for a Greyhound bus station. A homeless man, Larry Young, was being harassed by an assailant for the can of beer that Young held in a paper sack. A crowd of bystanders, some of whom spilled out a pool hall, followed the fight as it progressed up Oglethorpe Ave. toward the bus station. The assailant then pulled a pistol out of his pants and used it beat Young on the head. Fearing for his life Young yelled for someone to call the police, and Officer MacPhail responded. He was shot twice and died.

At trial Young identified Davis as the man who both assaulted him and murdered MacPhail. Young has since recanted. “After I was assaulted that night … some police officers grabbed me and threw me down on the hood of the police car and handcuffed me. They treated me like a criminal; like I was the one who killed the officer … They made it clear that we weren't leaving until I told them what they wanted to hear. They suggested answers and I would give them what they wanted. They put typed papers in my face and told me to sign them. I did sign them without reading them.”

There was no physical evidence against Davis and the murder weapon has never been found. The case against him depended entirely on the testimony of nine prosecution witnesses. Since the trial seven of the nine witnesses, including Young, have recanted their testimony. Many of the witnesses cited police pressure as the reason for their false trial testimony.

Davis said he was one of the bystanders who came out of the pool hall and watched the assailant torment Young. He stated he left after the assailant threatened to shoot Young and he never looked back. He also stated he did not have a gun and that the assailant was one of the remaining prosecution witnesses, Sylvester Coles. Coles was known as a neighborhood bully. Davis's appeals lawyers could not locate the other remaining witness. Davis was executed by lethal injection on September 21, 2011.  (  [7/07]

Cherokee County, GA

Roberto Rocha

July 2, 2002

Roberto Rocha was charged with the murder of Katie Hamlin. Rocha, who is mentally disabled, confessed to being present when Hamlin was killed on July 2. However, passports and witnesses showed that Rocha had been with his missionary father on a trip to Brazil between June 10 and July 10. Rocha was released and charges against him were dropped after 15 months in police custody.  (Atlanta JC) (Primetime)  [9/05]

Clayton County, GA 

Calvin Johnson

Mar 9, 1983

Calvin Crawford Johnson, Jr. was convicted of rape and burglary and sentenced to life imprisonment. DNA tests exonerated him in 1999. Johnson serves on the Boards of the Innocence Project and the Georgia Innocence Project and has co-written Exit to Freedom, a book about his ordeals.  (IP)  [5/05]

Cobb County, GA 

Marietta Seven

May 7, 1971

James Creamer and six co-defendants were convicted of murdering two physicians in Marietta, Georgia. The victims, Warren and Rosina Matthews, were found shot to death in their home in what appeared to be an attempted robbery. Creamer's co-defendants were George Emmett, Larry Hacker, Bill Jenkins, Hoyt Powell, Charles Roberts, and Wayne Ruff. The seven were arrested and prosecuted almost entirely on the word of Deborah Ann Kidd who said she had accompanied the men to the Matthews home. Kidd testified that Creamer was the shooter. All seven were given life sentences, except for Creamer, who was given a death sentence. In 1974, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously upheld all the convictions and sentences.

In 1975, an investigation by the Atlanta Constitution newspaper revealed that Kidd's testimony had major credibility problems. She had claimed to be high on drugs at the time of the crime and had a hypnotist refresh her memory (whose tapes show he fed her case facts). One woman she named as part of the gang was known to be out of state at the time. Transcripts of her statements had been withheld from the defense. Kidd had given many versions of events that transpired at the crime scene. The identity of the shooter changed from one version to another, as did her identification of those who were present. At one point she confessed to shooting the victims herself. It was also discovered that Kidd was romantically involved with one of the detectives assigned to the case.

Kidd admitted she lied in her trial testimony. In addition, Billy Birt, a death-row inmate, confessed to committing the crime with two other men. In 1975, the convictions of the Marietta Seven were reversed and the state dropped charges. The DA claimed he was not convinced of the men's innocence and declined to prosecute Kidd for perjury.  (TWM) (CWC) (PC)  [3/07]

Cobb County, GA 

William Mayo

Nov 3, 1991

William Mayo was sentenced to two life sentences plus 40 years for a robbery he did not commit. Even his co-defendants say he is innocent. Mayo appeared via satellite in 2002 on the John Walsh show, When False Accusations Put You Behind Bars.  (TIJ)  [11/05]

DeKalb County, GA 

Robert Clark

July 30, 1981 (East Atlanta)

Robert Clark was convicted of kidnapping, rape, and armed robbery. Clark did not match the victim's initial description of her assailant, but she identified him eventually after submitting to suggestive police identification procedures. DNA tests exonerated Clark in 2005.  (IP)  [12/05]

DeKalb County, GA 

Clarence Harrison

Oct 25, 1986 (Decatur)

Clarence Harrison was convicted of the kidnapping, robbery, and rape of a 25-year-old woman in Decatur. The conviction was based on the victim's identification. DNA tests exonerated Harrison in 2004.  (IP)  [7/05]

Douglas County, GA 

Genarlow Wilson

Dec 31, 2003

Genarlow Wilson, a homecoming king, was sentenced to 10 years in Georgia for having consensual oral sex with his underage girlfriend. (He was 17, she was 15.) Citizens were so troubled by the sentence that the state legislature amended its child protection act to reduce the offense to a misdemeanor. However, Wilson remained in jail because lawmakers did not make the change retroactive. In June 2007, a judge ordered Wilson released, citing “a grave miscarriage of justice,” but Wilson remained imprisoned as the state attorney general has vowed to appeal the judge's decision. He was released four months later after the Georgia Supreme Court determined that his sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment.  (Archives)  [6/07]

Forsyth County, GA 

Anthony McKenzie

June, July 2003

Anthony McKenzie was convicted of violating an obscenity statute by engaging in sexually suggestive telephone conversations with a 14-year-old girl he had met over the Internet. McKenzie, 17, was in the Forsyth County jail and had called his girlfriend collect. In 2005, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the conviction. It found the statute an overly broad restriction of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, because it applied to speech that was welcomed by the listener.  (JD)  [2/07]

Fulton County, GA 

William Broughton

Feb 22, 1900

(Federal Case)  After receiving a letter he considered obscene, the City Solicitor of Atlanta, Nash R. Broyles, turned it over to Federal Authorities. The letter reflected pointedly on Broyles' moral character. It was signed Grant Jackson, so a man named Grant Jackson was arrested as well as William Broughton who was considered by authorities to be a close friend of Jackson and of necessity involved in whatever mischief Jackson might be involved. Broyles had sent both Jackson and Broughton to jail at various times for a variety of misdemeanors. Both Jackson and Broughton denied writing the letter or having any knowledge of it.
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Fulton County, GA 

Leo Frank

Apr 26, 1913 (Atlanta)

Leo Frank was a Jewish businessman who managed a pencil factory. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a 13-year-old employee, Mary Phagan. Phagan's apparent murderer was black. However, as Phagan's minister, O. L. Brickner, put it, “One old Negro would be poor atonement for the life of this innocent girl. But when on the next day, the police arrested a Jew, and a Yankee at that, all of the inborn prejudices against Jews rose up in a feeling of satisfaction that here would be a victim worthy to pay for the crime.”

The conviction was based on the testimony of factory janitor, Jim Conley, whom many thought was the true murderer. Following the conviction and during Frank's appeals, many Georgians became incensed by Northern and later non-Georgian Southern press reports about the case. In many respects, Frank was given an eminently fair trial, not characterized by anti-Semitism or hooliganism. The prosecutor even praised Judah P. Benjamin, a Jew who served as the Confederate Government's secretary of state.

Georgia, at the time, had a tradition of private justice characteristic of pre-industrial times mixed with mass media newspapers characteristic of the modern era. The combination produced a mob spirit that was never far below the surface. Jurors, who might have rendered a just verdict, had reason to be afraid.

In 1915, Gov. John Slaton commuted Frank's sentence to life because of doubts about his guilt. (He privately thought him innocent.) After the announcement, a mob stormed the Governor's mansion. Some weeks later, a second mob abducted Frank from a state prison and lynched him. In the anti-Semitic hysteria that followed, other Jews were attacked and many were forced to flee the state.

Frank's case became the catalyst for the formation of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League as well as for the resurgence of the Klu Klux Klan. In 1913, Frank employed a 14-year-old office boy named Alonzo Mann. In 1982, Mann came forward and said he had seen Conley carrying Phagan's body. In 1913, he was afraid of Conley, and his mother told him not to get involved. In March 1986, Georgia granted Frank a posthumous pardon. A book was written about the case entitled The Leo Frank Case.  (CrimeLibrary) (Famous Trials)  [11/05]

Fulton County, GA 

Willie Williams

Apr 5, 1985

Willie “Pete” Williams was convicted of kidnapping, raping, and sodomizing a woman at the Sandy Springs apartment complex. At trial, he was identified by the victim, who when asked to rate her certainty on a scale of 1 to 100, answered, “120.” Williams was also identified by the victim of an attempted rape that occurred at a different apartment complex a few days after the first rape. Williams' prosecutor, Frederic Tokars, was later sentenced to two life sentences on charges relating to the murder for hire of his wife. DNA tests exonerated Williams in 2007 and he was released from prison.  (Atlanta JC) (IP)  [2/07]

Fulton County, GA 

Weldon Wayne Carr

Apr 7, 1993 (Sandy Springs)

Weldon Wayne Carr was convicted of the arson-murder of his wife in 1993. A trained dog purportedly found evidence that an accelerant was used to start the fire. Prosecutors said Carr had discovered his wife was having an affair and alleged that he knocked her unconscious before setting their house on fire. The jury acquitted Carr of assault. In 1997, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned Carr's conviction and the Court ordered a new trial. Carr was released on bond in 1998. In June 2004, the Georgia Supreme Court ordered the charges dropped because the prosecution had not initiated a retrial after six years. The prosecution was unable to find an expert to support their theory of the crime.  (Atlanta JC)  [7/05]

Gordon County, GA 

Worcester & Butler

1831 (New Echota)

Samuel Austin Worcester and Elihu Butler were missionaries who in 1831 were sentenced to four years at hard labor for residing in the Cherokee Nation without a license. The license law was enacted to try to stop the two from protesting the state's seizure of Cherokee land in northwest Georgia. Until 1828, the Cherokee Nation was considered a sovereign foreign country, with its land off limits to settlers. But in 1829, gold was discovered in Dahlonega and Georgia seized much of the land and abolished Cherokee sovereignty.

Worcester and Butler, who lived at the Cherokee capital of New Echota, attracted national attention to the American Indians' cause. To muzzle them, the state required all white men living on Cherokee land to obtain a state license. Worcester and Butler refused and were convicted of “high misdemeanor.” The missionaries appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1832, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that Georgia had no constitutional right to extend any state laws over the Cherokee, including seizing their land, and that they must release the missionaries. But Georgia ignored the ruling. The missionaries spent 16 months doing hard labor as part of a chain gang.

The two were released in time to join the Trail of Tears, when Georgia forced up to 17,000 Cherokees to move west. Thousands died of cold and starvation during the march, but the missionaries made it to Oklahoma and continued their work among the Cherokee there. The state repealed its Cherokee laws in 1979, and posthumously pardoned the two missionaries in 1992.  (News Article) (1832 Appeal)  [2/07]

Greene County, GA 

Robert Wallace

May 16, 1979

Robert Wallace was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Thomas Rowry, a Union Point police officer. Wallace, who was drunk, had been in a scuffle over a gun with a different officer when the gun went off, killing the officer he was accused of murdering. The prosecution argued that Wallace intentionally shot the victim officer. Upon retrial in 1987, a jury acquitted Wallace.  (PC)  [7/05]

Harris County, GA

Russell Burton

Arrested 1985

Russell R. Burton was convicted in a rural Georgia court of raping three teen-age girls and sodomizing two of them. In Jan. 2002, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the reversal of his conviction by a federal district court on the grounds of incompetent defense counsel and unfair prosecution. The girls originally described their assailant as having a deeply pockmarked face, stocky build, brown eyes, and brownish hair. Burton is 6 feet tall and slim, with blue eyes, blond hair, and clear skin. Near the time of the assault, he did have a severe case of poison ivy, which infected his face, and this fact may have led to a “pockmarked” description. The victims identified Burton in a photo lineup and said their attacker drove a white Toyota, a car that Burton owned.

Medical exams were not performed on two of the girls because they had taken showers immediately after returning home following the alleged assault. The third victim was examined and the medical report stated she showed “no evidence of recent sexual entry.” This report was suppressed at trial. One of the victims' high school teachers stated to a private investigator that the three victims were notorious liars. She refused to testify for fear of being socially ostracized.

A defense investigator re-enacted the crime and reported that it was impossible to drive the distance to the alleged rape scene in the time period during which the victims allege they were driven and also systematically raped and sodomized. Two days before the attack, Burton had eight genital warts surgically removed. The surgeon testified that after undergoing this procedure “sex would have been the last thing on his [Burton's] mind.” Burton's conviction was overturned in in May 2002. Rather than face retrial, he agreed in Dec. 2003 to a plea deal for which he received a time served sentence.  (Case Facts) (CM)

Henry County, GA

Terry Lee Wanzer

July 3, 1973

Terry Lee Wanzer was convicted of rape and aggravated sodomy by Clayton County even though it was later determined that the crime actually occurred in Henry County. Wanzer was paroled in 1981 after 8 years of imprisonment. He was pardoned for innocence in 1991, and was awarded $100,000 by the State of Georgia in 1996.  (HR 973) (DGF) (74) (78)  [9/05]

Henry County, GA 

Jerry Banks

Nov 7, 1974

Jerry Banks, a black man, was sentenced to death for the murders of Marvin W. King and Melanie Ann Hartsfield, both whites. King was a local band director and Hartsfield was a 19-year-old ex-pupil of his. While rabbit shooting in a wooded area, near Stockbridge, GA, Banks came upon their two dead bodies. He then hurried to a nearby road, flagged down a motorist, and told the motorist to call the police.

Police withheld witness statements from people who happened to be near the scene of the murders when they occurred. At least one of these statements was from a law enforcement officer. All witnesses reported they heard several gunshots fired in rapid succession. Banks's gun – a broken, single-action shotgun – could not have fired those shots. Police also withheld the name of the motorist who backed up Banks's claim of finding the bodies. In addition, they withheld the name of another suspect who happened to be a law enforcement officer.

Police confiscated Banks' shotgun for test firings. Two shells found at the crime scene did not match shells from Banks' gun. About a month later a third shell was found at the crime scene that did match a shell from Banks' gun. Banks was subsequently convicted.

It was later determined that the lead investigator in the case, Phillip S. Howard, had a history of falsifying evidence. He had even “tampered with and manipulated evidence involving [shotgun] shells” in another case. Howard said he found the third shell the day before he took Banks' gun for test firings. However, credible evidence indicated that the shell was found after the test firings. It was believed that the third shell came from the test firings. At the time of this finding, Banks was facing a third trial. The DA decided to drop charges. Banks was released in 1980.  (TWM)  [4/08]

Houston County, GA 

Ellis Wayne Felker

Nov 24, 1981

Ellis Wayne Felker was convicted of the rape and murder of 19-year-old Evelyn Joy Ludlam. The conviction was obtained through hair analysis, which is notoriously unreliable, and by claimed similarities between the murder and another crime for which Felker was convicted years before. Felker was put under police surveillance within hours of Ludlam's disappearance on Nov. 24, 1981. Ludlam's body was found in Twiggs County fourteen days later floating in Scuffle Creek. An autopsy indicated that she had been strangled and put her death within the previous five days. However, when police realized this would have ruled Felker out as a suspect because he had been under surveillance, the findings of the autopsy were changed.

An unqualified lab technician conducted the autopsy. During appeals, Felker's lawyers showed notes and photos of Ludlam's body to pathologists who unanimously agreed that she could not have been dead for longer than three days. In spite of the medical opinion, appeal courts upheld Felker's conviction. Felker was executed on Nov. 15, 1996.

The state hid boxes of evidence from Felker's attorneys until just before his execution. Some held exonerating evidence, including another person's confession. Others held materials that could have been DNA tested.  (Felker v. State)

Jackson County, GA 

James Foster

July 19, 1956 (Jefferson)

James Fulton Foster was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of grocer Charles Drake. The victim's widow identified him in an unlawful showup procedure and a jailhouse informant testified against him. Foster lost his direct appeals, but he was granted two reprieves from scheduled executions. After the actual murderer, Charles P. “Rocky” Rothschild, confessed, a new trial was granted. At Foster's new trial the judge entered a directed verdict of acquittal.  (ISI)  [7/05]

Jefferson County, GA 

Eddie Mayes

Nov 1956

Eddie Mayes lived in central Florida and visited his family in Georgia. While in a car with his half-brother and brother's friend, police arrested the trio, for a string of burglaries in five counties. Mayes's brother admitted involvement. Knowing how Southern justice worked for blacks who protested their innocence, Mayes pleaded guilty after he was told he would receive a short sentence. He was not told that his short sentence would amount to 35 years. Mayes' subsequent harsh treatment in prison inflamed his desire to escape, even at the risk of being shot.

In 1960, Mayes escaped and hitchhiked back to Florida. He lived under the alias Eddie Miller and married in 1969. In 2004, he got careless and submitted an application to visit his son who was serving a 27-month sentence for burglary in a Florida prison. A background check of his application revealed that Eddie Miller was an alias for Eddie Mayes, wanted for a 1960 escape from Georgia. He was arrested in Mar. 2004 to serve the remainder of his sentence. However, in June 2004, on its own initiative, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles commuted his sentence to time served.  (Justice: Denied)  [2/07]

Madison County, GA 

Henry Drake

Dec 5, 1975

Henry Arthur Drake was convicted of the armed robbery and murder of a 74-year-old barber in his shop. The barber's name was C. E. Eberhart. Drake was sentenced to death. In separate trials of Drake and a codefendant, William Campbell, prosecutor Bryant Huff used two different theories as to who was the murderer. In 1981, Campbell, the state's key witness against Drake, admitted that he lied at Drake's trial and that he, not Drake, was the murderer. No physical evidence tied Drake to the murder, and witnesses swore Drake was with them when the murder took place. Drake was pardoned on grounds of factual innocence in 1987.  (CWC)  [7/05]

Mitchell County, GA 

Denise Lockett

Sept 1997 (Baconton)

Sixteen-year-old Denise Lockett gave birth to a full-term baby boy while sitting on the toilet in her mother's apartment. The baby was stillborn or died within minutes of falling into the toilet bowl. Lockett has an IQ of 61 and did not know she was pregnant, nor did anyone else. She was charged with murder. Her court appointed attorney persuaded her to plead guilty to manslaughter. Lockett was sentenced to 20 years in prison.  (Justice: Denied)  [2/07]

Polk County, GA 

Hugh C. Lee

Sept 15, 1923

(Federal Case)  Hugh C. Lee was convicted of robbing a post office in Priors, Georgia of 165 blank money orders. His conviction was due to identifying witnesses. Another man, Will Barrett, later gave a detailed confession to the crime. Following Barrett's conviction, U.S. President Coolidge pardoned Lee in 1925.  (CTI)  [10/08]

Randolph County, GA 

Lena Baker

Apr 30, 1944 (Cuthbert)

Lena Baker, a black woman, was convicted of murdering Ernest B. Knight, a white grist mill owner. After Knight hired Baker to care for him while he nursed a broken leg, a sexual relationship developed between the two. Following Baker's attempts to break off the relationship, Knight found her and forced her to go with him. Baker managed to escape, but Knight found her again and locked her in a gristmill. Later, according to Baker, during a tussle between the two over a gun, the gun went off killing Knight. Baker was executed in the electric chair on March 5, 1945.

In 1998 while the director of a prisoner's rights group, John Cole Vodicka, was visiting the Randolph County Courthouse, the Court Clerk asked him if he wanted to look into Baker's case. The clerk gave him the court file, which included the 10-page trial transcript. Vodicka later came into contact with a great-nephew of Baker, and in 2003 helped in the filing of a pardon application for her with the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. Vodicka expressed confidence that “almost any lawyer could have pled Lena Baker not guilty by reason of self-defense.” The Board of Pardons and Paroles apparently agreed with him and granted Baker a posthumous pardon on Aug. 30, 2005. A 2001 book about the case was published entitled The Lena Baker Story.  (Justice: Denied)  [10/08]

Whitfield County, GA 

Wayne Cservak

Convicted 1997 (Dalton)

Wayne Cservak was convicted of molesting his girlfriend's 13-year-old-son. The boy testified that Cservak had molested him night after night for almost two weeks. He said the sexual assaults happened regularly between 3 and 4 a.m. as he slept on the living room sofa. One juror, Jim Thomas, thought the boy's testimony seemed contrived. The boy stated he was sleeping on the sofa because he thought there were ghosts in his room. Then he said he was in the living room because his mother had rented out his room for a week to a cousin. Testimony revealed that investigators had already caught the boy in one lie. The boy's attitude also gave Thomas pause. When asked why he didn't immediately report the allegations, the boy wisecracked, “Go figure.” In contrast to the boy's testimony, Thomas felt that Cservak's testimony was real and believable.

However, despite believing Cservak innocent, Thomas was eventually browbeaten into convicting him after eight grueling hours of jury deliberation. Thomas spoke at Cservak's sentencing hearing and his testimony helped convince the judge to give Cservak only 10 years out of a possible 100-year sentence. Then Thomas spent thousands of dollars hiring an attorney to appeal Cservak's case. During the appeal process, the boy recanted his story and told prosecutors that he had lied. Apparently, the boy's mother and Cservak were talking about marrying and the boy did not like that idea. Cservak was incarcerated for close to a year.  (Justice: Denied)  [10/08]